Friday, 30 March 2012

How can I believe you, when you can't believe your luck?

I am someone who, when I want something, will normally find a way to get it. Whether it’s out-of-my-budget or out-of-stock, oh, you’d better believe I’ll stalk the hell out of that until I spot it in the sale rail or on ebay. I’m persistent. But there’s one item of clothing that I’ve coveted for years – YEARS – and somehow never bought. The problem is that they never go in the sale, and ebay versions are never much cheaper, so I’ve always just longed for it from afar.

I am, of course, talking about a Vivien of Holloway dress. Probably the most ‘me’ brand there is – their retro styling makes me wish I could have been born in the 50s. My child bearing hips would have been so at home under all those petticoats! Ever since someone featured one on The Highstreet (LiveJournal’s finest, and the birthplace of many of my blogging peers) I’ve obsessed about them. When I started my current job, three years ago, I watched in envy as my boss accumulated a collection of the dresses, and shamelessly stole her idea to put her bridesmaids in VoH dresses (nope, I’m not engaged, but, you know. WHEN.). Oh, and when Sha bought her dream dress for her birthday in December – in between admiring how goddamn amazing she looked, I quietly pined for a VoH dress of my very own, even more. One day. One day.

So then, thanks to Hayley doing that whole ‘being amazing’ thing she does and passing on my details, I got an email from price comparison site, Idealo, asking me to take part in the Spring Dress Challenge - basically, offering to buy me a dress for Spring with a budget of £100. Obviously, they didn’t need to ask me twice, but when I went round Debenhams, Monsoon, Laura Ashley and the rest of the high street, nothing really stood out. And then I decided to try and be a little bit cheeky. ‘Um, can I have a Vivien of Holloway dress?’ And basically… DREAM DRESS.


Can I have a mother-flipping SQUEE?!

I absolutely adore it. The tight little waist, the HUGE skirt – I’m wearing it with two petticoats that I got from eBay (dying for a proper VoH one now) – I just feel like a princess in it. It’s so well made, too – it has boning in it to really pull you in, and you can tell it’s going to last for years. It’s not QUITE perfect for me yet – it’s a teeny bit tight, so I may need to lay off the pizzas for a bit if I ever want to wear it out, and it’s a bit long for my little legs, so I’m contemplating getting it taken up to knee-length. But all those are tiny things because IT’S SO BLOODY PRETTY.

So thank you, thank you, thank you Idealo for buying me my dream dress. I am in love.



Dress - Vivien of Holloway c/o Idealo
Petticoats - eBay
Belt & Shoes - Matalan
Nails - Vintage Pink Models Own
Lips - MAC Ruby Woo


PS – Red lipstick seemed like the right thing to do with a retro number, but yet again, it leaves me cold. It’s just not ME.

PPS - Don't forget to vote for your favourite look in my Tesco post!
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Thursday, 29 March 2012

She is literally the polaroid of perfection.

Like many people who have a serious hobby, I prefer to shop alone. A leisurely wander with a friend is lovely, of course, but it doesn't compare to the solitary, single-minded trip up the high street, going as fast or slow as you like, sometimes spending hours trying on everything in store. A lunch hour spent trying on dresses is a lunch hour well spent, if you ask me.

But for those Friday nights when you're relaxing at home, idly window shopping on your favourite websites, you can't try anything on. It's what I don't like so much about online shopping - you have to purchase everything you want to try on, sometimes in several sizes. It is a paaaain. So, I was pretty excited to find out about Tesco's new feature on their Facebook page, where you make a virtual 'You' - down to putting in your face and even inputting your measurements, and test out outfits to your hearts content. I'm not sure how much I look like me (and there were no ginger-with-a-fringe hair options...) but I had great fun playing with it.

The lovely Florrie did this challenge first (comparing it to Cher's virtual wardrobe in Clueless - it so is! Although, I actually find this post works almost as well) and then tagged me to try it out in her final outfit post. Basically, I have to try out three looks, and that's where YOU come in! I need you to vote on your favourite look that you want to see me try in real life, and then Tesco will help with that part. :)

Look One
This is a very 'me' dress - red, belted, a-line, but I decided to mix it up by layering this dogtooth cardigan over the top and a light black blazer over that. These cute t-bar heels finish it perfectly - cute, but sophisticated.
 

Look Two
Again, a very 'me' dress (but, y'know, that's probably why I like it). I think the two shades of blue look really cute together, and that style of blazer normally works quite well on shorties like me. I love the chunky black boots (although I'd almost definitely wear them with opaque tights).
 

Look Three
I had to mix it up a little bit for the last one, so have chosen NOT a dress! This spotty skirt is very summery and contrasts beautifully with the red t-shirt. The slouchy red blazer adds a modernised twist to the twin-set look. And I love these leopard print flats!
 

Now it's up to you! Tell me which you like best in a comment, on my Facebook page or on Twitter @essbeevee

You have until this Sunday 7pm to vote - I'll report back next week!
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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

How to get started in Marketing.

Source (not originated)

I get the whole ‘OMG YOU ARE NEARLY THIRTY?!’ thing quite a lot, especially online – it seems like most style bloggers are students or recent graduates, and so compared to a lot of them, I’m quite the oldie. It does mean that every now and then I can give out a patronising look and say ‘Ah, when I was your age...’ (which, after a lifetime of always seeming to be the youngest, is rather satisfying).

The biggest difference between being 21 and 29 is work. When I was 21, I worked in a bar at uni, and as a receptionist/postroom assistant in the holidays. At 29, I’m in a marketing management role. It was a fairly natural progression, but at the same time it wasn’t easy to get here. I see a lot of graduates on Twitter who are struggling to find work, killing time in jobs they don’t enjoy so that they can make a living, but not getting anywhere on the whole ‘career’ thing. I’ve been there, and you know what? It sucks. For the first three years after I left uni, the only jobs I could get were administration roles where the bulk of my duties were stuffing envelopes, photocopying and typing up notes. Not very exciting.

So I thought I’d do a bit of a career advice post. If it’s popular, I might hit up some friends for their stories, and make it a bit of a series. But for now, here’s How To Make It In Marketing. By me.



 


1) Degree
If you are 18 and pretty sure you’d like to work in marketing or something similar when you graduate, then for the love of god, do a marketing degree. The sad truth is that most degrees will only guarantee you a job in that area if you want to be a teacher. I did an English degree, because English is ‘my’ subject and I’ve always been really passionate about it, but it seemed pretty useless after I graduated. If a marketing recruiter has two graduate CVs – one has an English degree, one has a Marketing degree, you can predict which candidate they will interview. And I am NOT teacher material. No. God no.

2) Conversion Course
So, you ignored my advice and did that degree for love anyway. But the more you think about it, the more you really want to work in marketing, but no one will even give you an interview. Bums. Here’s what you do: take a job. Any job. Pay the bills, keep busy. And sign up for a part time conversion course.

CIM – the Chartered Institute of Marketing – give out qualifications that are universally recognised by the industry. If you have a degree already, you should be able to go straight on the CIM Professional Diploma. You can do it in evening classes – normally 3 hours, twice a week – and it costs about £1000 for a year’s study, plus exam fees. If you pass all four modules (with an exam each) first time, then you’re done! You have a Diploma. If not, then, er, you don’t. If, say, you failed Marketing Management in Practice twice like a friend of mine who definitely wasn’t me, no sir, then you can take it as many times as you want until you pass (and carefully gloss over that on your CV by listing when you are due to finish, not the start – finish dates) (but you didn’t hear that from me).

That line on your CV can open some doors. It shows that you are serious about a career in marketing, to the extent that you are willing to give up your spare time to pursue it. Just STUDYING it looks good – so don’t think that because you haven’t completed it yet, you can’t apply for marketing jobs. Get out there!

FYI – some companies will sponsor you to do the CIM, so if you’re working somewhere with marketing opportunities - even if you're not in a marketing role at the moment -  ask the question. It can’t hurt, after all.

 

3) Internships
I... have never done an internship. I’ve never worked unpaid. It wasn’t that common when I was a student, not like it is now. But all experience is good experience and if you can, try and get some in during your holidays. Not only does it look good on your CV, it can also give you valuable contacts in the industry. However, don’t get too caught up in them – I think a lot of companies take the mickey now, getting people to work jobs that they should really be paid to do. You can’t work unpaid forever.

4) Applying
When I was looking for a marketing job, I realised that I just needed that ‘Marketing Assistant’ line on my CV and I applied for anything that was vaguely close to it. I went through my sent items and realised I’d sent CVs and covering letters to over 50 people – and that’s in addition to the online applications and calls from agencies.

To put it in context, I left uni and worked for the head office of a building society for nearly a year, stuffing envelopes and slowly losing the will to live. In hindsight, I should have looked into grad schemes straight out of uni, but without a marketing degree, they're not always guaranteed. But you can still get there! Then I managed to land a job in a PR agency which sounded PERFECT... except the promised career progression never came, and I spent my days scanning in articles and photocopying. I lasted 6 months. Then I worked for the council for 9 months, in an easy-but-fun job which I could quite easily do on 5 or 6 hours sleep. Boy, that was a fun year. And then, a week after I was told that my temp contract was ending, I was offered an interview for an admin role which I turned down, as I was only looking for marketing roles. They let me interview for a marketing assistant (on the understanding that it was a very admin focused role). I got the job, worked my arse off to prove myself and within a month and a half, was promoted to marketing executive.

There was a lot of luck in there - no one else was interviewed as far as I know - but I also feel like it was my time, and I know that if I hadn't worked so hard when I got in there, I would have stayed on the bottom rung for a bit longer. I had some bad luck with redundancies and at least one soul destroying, miserable 6 month stint in a marketing exec role, and I got a LOT of practise at interviews, but eventually landed my current job where I've been for nearly three years, and it's kind of ace (sure, it has its moments - it's work, after all - but overall? Ace.).

 

5) The Reality
If you want to work in marketing, you have to REALLY work in marketing. It's not all about long lunches and glamorous projects. You have to put the effort in, you have to put the hours in, but it's really rewarding. I get to be creative, I get to write and I work with a great supportive team who make me laugh a lot.

6) Don't Judge A Book...
Don't be blinded by the industry. If you, the typical reader of this blog, had to choose between working for a bathroom company, a caravan sales company and a nail polish company, you'd choose the latter, wouldn't you? Me too. Worst. Job. I. Ever. Had. The other two were the best. Just because an industry doesn't SOUND exciting upon first look, doesn't mean it's not interesting. Often those industries are the ones taht take a more quirky approach. Also, secret - they tend to be better paid.


And that's it! All my advice on how to get started in marketing. Sorry it was so long! Was it interesting? Useful? I'd really like your thoughts - again it was a bit of a departure from my usual bloggings, and I'd rather not spam you all with stuff you're not interested in if you're, er, not interested.

But if you DID like it, do you have anything to add? Any other careers you'd like me to look into? Any volunteers for future posts?
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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Storm in a teacup.


I've always been a stubborn avoider of hot drinks. The occasional hot chocolate, I can handle, but tea or coffee? Not for me, ta. It's not a bad way to be! I am exempt from the tea run at work (my motto being 'Hey, if I don't drink it, I ain't making it.') and a lifetime of never drinking coffee means I have an insanely high tolerance for caffeine, meaning I can astound my friends by taking five proplus tablets at once and becoming marginally less tired.

There are downsides, too, though. That insanely high tolerance for caffeine means that I could probably do with a regular source of it throughout the day. And I don't get to use a cool mug. Oh, and organising meetings makes me panic because I know I'll have to offer to make drinks, and I SUCK at making drinks. Basically, why can't everyone drink water? Especially in the summer! The idea of hot chocolate on a warm day is just weird, but it doesn't seem to slow down tea drinkers. IT CONFUSES ME. OH! And don't get me started on cream teas. Why do they never give you an option to JUST HAVE THE CAKE? When I ask for a cream tea without the tea THEY LOOK AT ME LIKE I'M INSANE. YOU DON'T NEED TO DRINK TEA TO LIKE SCONES WITH CREAM AND JAM, TEAROOMS.


So, yeah. Being anti tea, working in an office, IN ENGLAND... it basically makes me feel like an alien. But I don't LIKE it. I think fruit tea tastes like weak squash (why is weak squash SO much worse than water?) and mint tea tastes like the weird toothpaste my Grandad used to use and green tea tastes like rockpools and regular tea tastes, well, kind of like rockpools too. Milky, sugary rockpools.

BUT! When Twinings contacted me to see if they could convert me, I was actually tempted to give it a go. I had this whole plan of getting my colleagues each to make me their perfect cup of tea, and I would try each one and give them points. But the plan was doomed. What with the combination of an insanely busy couple of weeks at work, and me, the guinea pig, coming down with a cold that made my colleagues less than keen to let me drink from their cups of tea... er, it didn't happen. But I still wanted to talk about my experiences with tea, because, come on! Who stands up for the non-tea-drinkers in England? WE'RE PEOPLE TOO. We're efficient, hydrated people! We think nothing of chugging 3 litres of water between the hours of 9 to 5! We don't spend ages waiting for the kettle to boil! We get up and GET GOING in the morning, with no need for that first cup of tea. BASICALLY WE ARE AMAZING.


However... this little failed experiment has got me thinking. I haven't actually tried REAL tea in years. And last year, out of the blue, I started to like olives, after LOATHING them. Now I am obsessed with them. And I like red wine now! So maybe, just maybe, my tastes have changed. So maybe it's time to give it another chance. Watch this space...

What do you think? Are you pro or anti tea? Are you surprised at how capslocky I get about tea? Check out the Twinings Facebook and let them know what you think!


PS - This post was written in collaboration with Twinings, but let's face it, I don't need much encouragement to launch into a rant about something that really doesn't make me that angry in real life.
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Friday, 23 March 2012

Just like a circus.

 

I never realised I had so many LBDs until I started blogging. Now I know I have lots... and, to be honest, I like them all a lot more than this one. It's okay, I guess, but it's not a great fit - too low cut for work but rather too long for a night out. I've worn it once, and... meh. It's just a bit nothingy. It's also linen, which is the worst. I hate you, clothes-that-need-ironing! I am embarrassed by how obvious the creases are in the photos. They didn't show in person, I'm sure of it!

So, I figured I'd do something about that by the magic of... ACCESSORIES. Ooooh. *waves hands around mysteriously*

First of all, this shrug, which Hayley picked up for me from Primark for a bargain price. I haven't worn it yet (Jen has one too and seems to find millions of ways to make it work, but I'm less adventurous than she is!) but it works perfectly with an LBD, especially to make a too-busty dress a bit more decent!

 
 
 

Secondly, the petticoat. It would look better under a more a-line skirt, to be honest, but I still think the effect is pretty damn cute, and turns a dull dress into something rather more special. Sarah told me about the petticoats from Boux Avenue, and when I took a look, I found it was reduced to just £10! It's lovely quality, similar to the kind they sell in Vivien of Holloway, but much shorter. Which suits me, because I'm much shorter than most people. I'm very tempted by the other colours now, especially black (although I do wish they did a red one!).

I'm pleased with the overall effect - I really feel like I'm wearing a different outfit. And I'm not sure I'm ever going to take the petticoat off. HOW did I not own one before?


Dress - ASOS
Petticoat - Boux Avenue
Shrug & Shoes - Primark
Belt (worn backwards) - Matalan
Ring - H&M
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Monday, 19 March 2012

My own flower sky, a garden of colour.

So, when I was investigating my stalkerish tendencies against polka dots, I noticed that, actually, polka dots don't have that much cause to worry. Don't get me wrong - my love for them burns like an eternal flame, but actually, if there's one outfit theme that seriously might need to double lock its doors at night and keep an eye out for short gingerish people, it's florals.

I FLIPPING LOVE FLORALS. See? But still, you know, an acceptable, not weird amount.












Um, this is turning into a series, by the way. BUT WHAT'S NEXT? Can you guess?
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Friday, 16 March 2012

Walking with spiders.

I always think that if Little Red Riding Hood had stuck to the path, there would have been no story. Oh, sure, no one would have got eaten by a wolf, either, but if you believe the later versions of that story, everyone was fine. Except the wolf.

I always want to go down the path that looks like it leads to a story, whether it's the gap in the hedge that reminds me of the way out of Wall, the stepping stones, the hidden door in a garden wall or past the creepy statues.

Our garden looks like it has miles and miles to explore, but it's overgrown and there's a great big river in the way, so it's not easy to get any further than the decking. But this week I pushed through, further out and further in and got way beyond my normal spot. Even though I could still see my house in the distance it felt like I was still exploring somewhere new. Maybe next time I'll venture a little further from home with my camera, and find myself an adventure.





 Dress - Apricot
Belt & Shoes - New Look
Necklace - Dorothy Perkins


It's not easy to look graceful balancing on a log, by the way. And sometimes you get your hair caught in trees.


PS - Thanks for all your comments on Wednesday's post! I was in two minds about posting that, and I'm glad I did. :) 
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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Why I'm Quitting Magazines.

Bit of a different post for me this one, and I'm sure it'll be a little tl:dr for many of you but I needed to have a little rant...

 

Tuesday night has always been magazine night. I buy my magazine at lunchtime or on the way home, then read it while eating my tea. When I lived with my sister, we’d sit there together, munching on pasta and half-watching Don’t Tell The Bride, while she flipped through Closer and I read Look. Then we’d swap.

Getting home on a Tuesday night and realising I’ve forgotten to buy my magazine is the worst. It’s my routine! Tuesday night is magazine night and NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME.

Um. Except me. And I’ve done just that. See, lately I find that when I get sick of the magazine piles in my room and chuck them in the recycling, I’ve actually hardly read any of them. And the ones I have read are, well, underwhelming. So, I quit.

Why I Quit Magazines.

1) They’re kind of horrible.
I used to be a diehard Heat fan, around 8 years ago when it was genuinely hilarious, but then they just got MEAN. I’m not interested in seeing which star is worryingly thin or which star is ‘embracing her curves’ or which star is not wearing makeup. No matter how Heat puts it, they’re just putting photos of women on their cover and inviting us to stare at their flaws. That’s really healthy, Heat.

I read Heat a few weeks ago for the first time in years and it’s got worse. They have a feature called ‘Tasty body, but lose the head’. That’s NOT okay.


 

2) ...and very hypocritical.
Most noticeably on the subject of weight. A recent issue of Look had an article about Demi Moore's 'worrying weight loss' a few pages apart from a photograph admiring Kate Bosworth's red carpet look.

3) Over reliance on blogs.
If you’re relying on blogs to provide your content, well, it’s kind of a no brainer really. *boots up Google Chrome* I’m always pleased  and proud when I see bloggers I know and love in print, but there are some titles that have turned into Spot The Blogger features. Once in a while these success stories are interesting, but every week or every month? Not really. (*ahem*Company*ahem*) And don't get me started on magazines using hashtags and internet speak. Journalism isn't just a longer version of Twitter.

4) Sometimes, they just LIE.
I always read Look magazine for the fashion, not the gossip. But week after week their front page deals with some made-up celebrity story (which seems pointless considering almost every issue has a genuine celebrity interview – put THEM on the cover!). Yeah, I said it. Made. Up. I’ve lost count of the amount of times they’ve reported Brad and Angelina have definitely broken up, or Jennifer Aniston is actually pregnant, or Cheryl Cole is back with Ashley Cole. NONE OF THOSE THINGS HAVE HAPPENED.

This cover is a year old. Angelina and that surrogate have been pregnant for a long time.

5) Almost all the content has already been online.
Let’s face it, any fashion, celebrity or general news of note hits Twitter within seconds of being leaked. I mean, by the time news of the new Mulberry bag hit magazines, it had already been all over Twitter and countless blogs. If I want gossip, I have Oh No They Didn’t. If I want runway commentary or a real perspective on high street fashion I have flipping hundreds of knowledgeable women all over my Google Reader, Instagram and Twitter timeline. And I PREFER that.

A magazine isn’t going to tell me that a skirt is nice but comes up two sizes too small, or that the zip sticks on that dress, or to run to the shops now because the sale just started. It’s why my favourite fashion blogs are the ones where they’ve ben out and bought the items themselves and are discussing them without being biased.

6) I’d kind of rather read a book.
Because not finishing Wuthering Heights because I was reading about the baby that some journalists thinks that Kate and Wills might have at some point in the future based on no evidence other than the fact that they have interlocking parts is really not a good way to live my life.

Repugnant.

And although I’m pretty sure I’ve guaranteed my exclusion from any future magazine features about bloggers by posting this, I wish the magazines would actually read it and realise that I’m not being critical for the sake of it, I’m suggesting ways in which they could improve. Come on, Heat. Go back and read your hilarious issues from 2000 and get that back. Stop focusing on reality TV contestants and start focusing on small, indie shows again and amusing commentary about celebrities. Or embrace your teenage readership and actually include some content that won’t turn them into body obsessed, shallow morons who think making jokes about disabled children is funny.

 
Fix Your Shape / Eating Disorders Are Bad / Underweight Woman Loses More Weight YAY 4 HER

And Look – embrace what you’re good at. If you must, include some HONEST gossip, not useless speculation pieces with about as much truth as a National Enquirer article. Quit putting flipping Beyonce or Angelina on the cover. Or diet tips from Victoria Beckham WHO IS UNDERWEIGHT. You’ve got an exclusive feature with Nicola Roberts in there – put that feisty redhead up front! But honestly, I think you should lose the gossip. That’s not why people read you, it’s the fashion news from the high street that I always used to read you for (hell, I can’t afford any of the selections in Grazia!) so do THAT. I think you’ve lost sight of why you’re popular.

Oh, I could go on, but I won’t. I know that I’ll still read the occasional magazine when I’m getting a train or whatever (and I don’t really count newspaper supplements), but that weekly habit is well and truly kicked.

But anyway. Rant over. I’d love to know your thoughts, though. Do you think the internet is killing magazines? Ultimately, I think yes, but only because magazines are kind of terrible. Give us a reason not to abandon you, magazines! You were good once!
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Monday, 12 March 2012

Out, damned spot.

Last time I went away for a long weekend, I unwittingly packed four polka dot dresses. Whilst wearing a fifth polka dot dress. Over a pair of polka dot pyjama bottoms. And then I got under my polka dot duvet cover and went to sleep. I only noticed all this because I was watching an episode of New Girl in which Zooey Deschanel's characters was concerned that someone had said to her 'You rock a lot of polka dots' in a derogatory fashion.

I AM NOT EVEN JOKING.

I mean, I like polka dots, okay? They're nice! I wouldn't have said I was OBSESSED with them. Except, um. Apparently I am. So then I decided to have a little look back through my Friday Frocks, and, er. Yeah. If I were polka dots, I'd probably take out a restraining order against me.







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